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Iran Says Will Continue Ballistic Missile Tests Despite U.S. Objections


An Iranian long-range missile is launched at an undisclosed location in Iran on March 9, 2016.

The Iranian military says it will keep conducting missile tests despite U.S. condemnation of them.

"Missile tests...are carried out for defense and the country's deterrence, and we will continue this," Brigadier-General Abolfazl Shekarchi, a spokesman for Iran's armed forces, was quoted as saying by the semiofficial Tasnim news agency on December 2.

He said Iran will "continue to both develop and test missiles" and added that such activity "is outside the framework of [nuclear] negotiations and part of our national security, for which we will not ask any country's permission."

The statement comes one day after U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo condemned what he described as Iran's testing of a medium-range ballistic missile “capable of carrying multiple warheads.”

“The missile has the ability to hit parts of Europe and any location in the Middle East,” Pompeo said in a December 1 statement.

“This test violates UN Security Council Resolution 2231 that bans Iran from undertaking any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons," the statement added, citing the UN Security Council's endorsement of the 2015 international nuclear agreement, which U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew from in May.

Pompeo warned that Iran’s “missile proliferation is growing” and called on Iran to “cease these activities."

U.S. national security adviser John Bolton tweeted earlier on December 2 that "Iran just test-fired a...ballistic missile capable of reaching Israel and Europe. This provocative behavior cannot be tolerated."

Shekarchi did not confirm or deny that Iran had tested a new missile.

The latest statement from Pompeo came amid heightened tensions between Tehran and Washington, which has reimposed tough sanctions on Iran that had been removed under the nuclear accord.

The sanctions are part of a broader U.S. campaign to pressure Iran over what the Trump administration describes as its "malign conduct" such as missile development and support for militant groups in the Middle East.

Tehran has repeatedly rejected negotiations over its missile program and insists the missiles are only to be used for defensive purposes.

"Iran will not abandon its defensive weapons...including its missiles that make America so angry," Iranian President Hassan Rohani said in September.

With reporting by Reuters, IRNA, and Tasnim
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